Sunday, August 9, 2020

Bits and Pieces on a Summer Sunday

I shared this video over on Instagram, pouring the dirty mop water down the toilet to show how gross my floors were (darn you barefooted kids!) but also to highlight my new best friend.  My new mop.  She has been a game changer for me...I actually love to mop now.  You can find you're own friend right here on Amazon, and let me know if she blesses your mess as well.

Speaking of blessing messes, have you all seen the show "Bless This Mess"?  If you like funny sitcoms that are pretty clean, this one will be right up your alley.  The characters are so great.  Aaaaand I just found out that Season 3 got cancelled.  Urgh.  Brooklyn 99 might not be coming back either.  What will our fall lineup look like?  Is this the part of adulthood where I stop watching tv?  I'm not ready!

We have been going to our favorite beach in Rhode Island this summer, but the governor just closed the border between Rhode Island and Massachusetts (unless you have to commute to your job) and so those big wave beach days are over.  We still have the more calm beaches near our house, which are still great, and I'm not really complaining.

We recently found out that our two highschoolers (and the school where Phil and I work) will be going back with a hybrid model for the month of September.  So the kids will go based on last name; with 50% attending on 3 days one week, then 2 days the next, and the other 50% doing the opposite.  We have not yet found out what our five other school aged children are going to do yet, which will be interesting to try and sort out.  If any of my little kids are home any days, I won't be able to go into work, so looks like I might be working from home and schooling from home like we were last spring?  I really hope that isn't the case because I don't think I can handle that for too long.  We did pretty well with it last spring, knowing that summer was right around the corner, but starting this new year off the same way feels very overwhelming.

Meanwhile, Xander is putting his spy equipment to good use...

And now I'm off to buy school shoes online.  Or maybe I should be getting slippers?  Nah, I'm going to stay optimistic for a school year actually spent in school.  Just call me Pollyanna.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Confirmation During COVID

Stupid COVID has ruined so much of 2020, hasn't it?  One of the biggest blows it dealt was the postponement of the sacraments.  I feel so bad for all those who needed Annointing of the Sick, had a baby but couldn't get them baptized, planned a wedding that couldn't happen, prepared for First Holy Communion or Confirmation and then had to wait and see.  It was especially hard to swallow when huge gatherings of protestors were allowed, but a gathering in a church - that would be too dangerous!  Oy vey.   We need to keep important what's truly important, and that is dying in the state of grace in this life to live eternally in the next.

Geesh Colleen, why you gotta be so morbid?

OK, I'll stop.  Sorry, so much pent up frustration at current events.

Let's focus instead on the beautiful sacrament of Confirmation that Andrew received.

Andrew missed receiving Confirmation with his class while we were away in Ohio in July, and so our pastor was very accommodating and offered us a private Confirmation Mass.  Andrew chose his Uncle Adam to be his sponsor, pictured above...masked in Mass.  Andrew had wanted to pick Uncle Adam as his sponsor since he was a little kid, but Adam wasn't Catholic.  I told Andrew to pray for his conversion so that he could have him as a sponsor one day (never telling Adam this) and Adam converted to Catholicism last Easter!  Just in time for Andrew to start his preparation year for Confirmation.  How great is God?  So great!  How powerful are prayers? So powerful!

John-Paul, Eamon, and Alexander served the Mass and it was beautiful.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Xander Turns Nine (and Into A Top Secret Spy)

Alexander's birthday lists never disappoint.  This year, he asked for spy equipment, and boy oh boy did he receive it!  We have all been under constant surveillance since.

First up, handcuffs.  Brendan, age 3, said, "Oh good thing you get handcuffs so when the bad guys come you can lock them up!"  Considering these handcuffs can be easily opened by the person locked up, I hope no bad guys ever come.

Declan playing the role of bad guy.

We pulled out the nice plates and Maggie created name tags, and we had a lovely dinner.  The flowers are from Phil to me (I get flowers on each kid's birthday because, you know, labor.  And he spoils me.)

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Experience of Catholic Familyland: A Fun, Faith-filled, Family Retreat (Part Two)

Part One is here (or how a non-camping mom of seven decided the world had turned just craaaaaazy enough for her to pack up and head to Ohio for a family retreat).

This is Part Two.

{Side note: Man, I am on FIRE while typing this.  Since we've come back we have been shamed via Instagram and in real life by people who don't agree with us traveling to Ohio which *gasps* did not require masks while we were there.  We follow all the rules when we live in Maskachusetts (pun intended) and we followed all the rules when we went to Ohio.  And boy did it feel GOOD to communicate/play/pray/be with other human beings!  Not only did it feel great to be back to "normal" but to be with like-minded people who think the same way.  So yeah, I don't want COVID, but I also believe that flattening the curve doesn't mean nobody should ever get this virus, and I also believe that herd immunity is the best immunity (you can thank my family full of doctors for that one), and if going to Ohio to Catholic Familyland means we get COVID...I am totally ok with that.  We already think we had it back in February anyway.  I've never shied away from living during flu season, and according to all the studies I've seen, this should only affect us like the flu.  We are doing our part to make sure we don't potentially affect anyone else's health by self quarantining since we've been back at home.  A lot of people are traveling right now, so if you're scared of people who have traveled, best not come out of your house at all.  By the way, I am also ok if we get COVID from receiving Jesus in the Eucharist at Mass.  I literally would die for Christ on my bravest days :)  End side note.}

Anyways, onward and upward.  We had the best time at Catholic Familyland.  If you can get over your fear of camping (like me) and can make the long trek to Ohio (like we did) I promise you, God will bless your whole family.  Guys, we are not a sheltered family.  We are normal.  Our kids all go to school.  Phil and I both work.  Our kids play sports and instruments and are around all sorts of people all the time.  I was nervous that we were going to "stick out" at Catholic Familyland as the "worldly ones".   That was not what it felt like at alllllllll.  Everyone was so friendly and nice, and because we shared a faith (and usually a political stance as well), it was easy to get along.  There were families there that homeschooled, private schooled, public schooled, worked outside the home, stayed at home, had one child, had ten children, were grandparents, just got get the idea!

Here are some scenes from the place, and I'll give you a sample schedule of a day later...

Beach Volleyball Courts - probably the most competitive tournament was beach volleyball.

Cousins in front of Mama C's Snack Shack.  We gave the kids money for the week and they had the freedom to spend it here as they liked.  But no additional funds!  I gotta teach them finances somehow!

My niece Jo-jo buying an ice cream that's bigger than her head!

My nephew, Liam, up in a tree

The littles with their Snack Shack purchase of the day - we literally bribed them to nap after lunch and then took them here.

A priest, currently assigned at Franciscan University, waiting for his next confession victim :)  There were multiple priests available all afternoons to hear confessions - so beautiful!

Gaga Ball - I had never heard of it!

Bouncy fun for the little ones every day!

We went to the pool every afternoon.

Monday, July 20, 2020

The Journey to Catholic Familyland: A Fun, Faith-filled, Family Retreat (Part One)

We just drove back from our family retreat to Catholic Familyland in Ohio, and boy are we tired!  But we have also been spiritually fed, bonded together as a family, and made memories to last a lifetime.  I have so many photos and stories to share, that I'm going to break this up into two parts.  Tonight I will focus on the journey that led our family to Catholic Familyland.

We first heard about this magical place from Phil's brother, Bob, and his wife Larisa, who have been going there for years with their eight children.  It always sounded a little corny (I mean, can a marketing team help them out with a new name?) and involved camping - not bare necessity camping, but also not glamping, which is the only way I would have considered camping in the past.  My idea of a nice family vacation is a big house on a beach.  Not the mountains, not the woods, not in nature.  And most definitely not in a cabin with no running water, toilet, or shower.

But then the pandemic hit.

And we were all stuck inside our house for months on end.

And all our normal summer events got canceled.

And we suddenly had all the time in the world but were so sick of the world, that we wanted an escape.

We were talking to Bob and Larisa, who mentioned what week they were going to Catholic Familyland (or "Church Camp" as they refer to it) and the Holy Spirit opened my heart just enough to actually entertain the passing thought of "I wonder if we could ever do that?"

I started researching their Holy Family Fests, looked at a couple blogger's reviews, casually mentioned it to Phil, and began envisioning the idea of a week roughing it in Ohio.

Guys, when I tell you that it took a literal PANDEMIC to ever let me consider doing something like this, I am not kidding.  I felt so depressed about the events going on in the world, so disheartened at seeing people violently debate politics, mask-wearing, and BLM, that I just wanted to go somewhere to deepen my faith and show my kids that not all people are crazy.  Well, some may say that Catholics are crazy, but I will be happy to be in that crazy camp anytime.

I had to talk Phil into going, which was ironic because he is the theology teacher who would normally love to go camping and/or on a retreat.  But to his credit, he knows me best and was worried that all of my anxieties about the trip might get the best of me as it got closer.  I assured him that I felt STRONGLY called to do this with our family, and he happily went along with it.  We planned to drive from Massachusetts to Maryland to visit his parents for a couple days before heading to Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio to show the kids our alma mater.

Inside the Port - 24/7 Adoration

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Summah Time So Fah

We are packing up to leave on a family "vacation" but I wanted to make sure to post some photos of our summer so far.  I say vacation in quotes because we are visiting family and then staying at Catholic Familyland for a week.  We will be staying in a tiny cabin with no bathroom or sink, but there is air conditioning and a fridge.  Since I am allergic to camping, I hope I don't die, but the kids are excited!  We are all ready to finally leave home after months and months, and I am looking forward to meeting some great families and being fed spiritually as a family.  Mostly I'm excited to hang out with my brother and sister-in-law every day and have my kids around those 8 cousins that they rarely see.

Anyway, here's what Phil and I have been up to - sweating together - every day whether we want to or not.  You'd think we would be in tip-top shape, but our other favorite past time is eating together, so we balance it out! 

The little boys were overjoyed when Phil pulled out an old kiddie pool from the basement.  I love that they don't need much to be so happy.  Of course, they needed goggles for one foot of water ;)